IT is a day that Hannah Parker’s family feared they would never see.
The bar worker has this week celebrated a milestone birthday surrounded by her family and friends.
Hannah was born by emergency Caesarean section three months premature with her twin sister Holly, both weighing less than 2lbs each.
Sadly, Holly was not strong enough to survive and lost her brave battle at three weeks old after undergoing two major bowel operations.
Parents Judy and Ken were told that Hannah had a 50/50 chance of survival but on Monday she turned 21-years-old and has had no health complications.
Mother-of-five Judy Curtis, a nurse, of Longbenton, North Tyneside, said: “I am very proud of Hannah as she is doing so well. But I always feel sad that there’s not two daughters celebrating their birthdays. I always have in my mind that there should be two of them with us.
“I feel blessed that Hannah is here as it was touch and go as to whether she would survive. I think Holly is with her and Hannah is living life for the both of them.”
After she was born, Hannah spent three months in the Special Care Baby Unit at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and needed oxygen 24/7 for the first year of her life.
“It was difficult but I did not want to wrap her up in cotton wool,” said Judy, 52. “I wanted Hannah to live her life without being held back.
“When she was growing up she was prone to coughs and colds and has always been smaller than the rest of my children, but fortunately Hannah has had no lasting health problems.”
Judy, who is now married to Ben Curtis, 48, was taken to hospital with a suspected urine infection two weeks before Christmas in 1993. Her waters broke when she was there and as she had started the early stages of labour medics had no other option than to deliver the twins.
“I was very excited to have identical twin girls,” said Judy. “But I felt helpless when I went into labour so early as no-one gave a reason as to why it happened.
“Both girls were put into incubators and we couldn’t pick them up as they were so fragile. It was so upsetting when Holly died and the hurt never really goes away.”
Judy and Hannah regularly visit West Road Crematorium in Newcastle, where Holly was laid to rest, to pay their respects.
The twins story toughed the hearts of The Journal readers as their plight was documented in the paper when they were born.
Hannah, who hopes to get a job working in a hospital caring for premature babies, said: “I know Holly should be here with me and I know it could so easily have been the other way around.
“It is sad what happened and I miss having a twin as I feel something is missing. But I am living my life for the both of us.”
Hannah’s older sister, Sophie, 24, organised a surprise party to mark the spacial birthday, and up to £300 was raised by the family for Tiny Lives to thank the charity for the support they have given the family.
Sophie said: “Hannah said she wanted to do something to raise money for Tiny Lives and we are really pleased to have raised so much money for the charity at Hannah’s birthday party by selling raffle tickets and cup cakes.”
Tiny Lives provides support for parents of premature babies at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. It offers a range of facilities, staff, equipment and research that includes baby nests, memory boxes and journals for parents to record their baby’s progress.
Judy, who also has sons Oliver, 23, and Andrew, 19, added: “The charity gives a huge amount of support to families at such a difficult time. It’s so important to raise awareness of the great work Tiny Lives does.”
Sophie and Hannah are planning to do the Great North Run next year as they continue to generate funds for Tiny Lives.
To give a donation visit https:// www.justgiving.com/Sophie-Parker7/